Several weeks ago, we headed over to Union Pier for a weekend getaway with friends. I have a hard time just sitting on the beach, so I planned a hike at Warren Dunes State Park, which is not too far north of where we were staying. This was supposed to be a relatively easy excursion, but one never knows when walking on sand, especially when it’s the whole family, including young ones.
I chose to check out the Mt. Randal Loop, since it basically circumnavigates the entire 2,000 acre park, using four trails or a stretch along Lake Michigan. By doing the loop, our walk took us through forests, up and over sand dunes and just above the beaches, then back to the car by heading over the sand dunes once again.
This really is a fantastic hike, even for families with young children, though it might be too long on some days – we had some complaining at the end, though all had energy to climb and run down the dunes, go figure. We didn’t see too many people once we got away from the Park entrance, though there quite a few more out there once we got back to the public beach area, with its dunes that are used by many to climb and run down.
We opted to stay above the shoreline, since the beach, while beautiful, doesn’t vary much in terms of view or unique features. The trail just above the beach gives on beautiful views of Lake Michigan, but also closer views of the dunes, blowouts, and native vegetation. Unless you’re beach combing for interesting rocks, I’d opt for the duneside trail, even though it is quite bit more difficult as it winds its way up and down the dunes rather than along the flat beach.
Getting there: Warren Dunes State Park is located in Sawyer, Michigan, about an hour and a half from downtown Chicago.